You really can’t keep a good series of giant-robot-lions-becoming-a-giant-robot-guy going for long. Just over three years after the conclusion of Voltron: Legendary Defenderthe latest iteration of Voltron franchise, a live-action film in development obviously sparked a bidding war. According to The Hollywood Reporterlive action Voltron project of red notice director Rawson Marshall Thurber, is in preparation. Obviously, six or seven different studios are fighting for the rights to the film. These include Warner Bros., Universal and Amazon. Netflix, the platform behind legendary defenderis not in the running.
“The package arrived in town about two weeks ago,” The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “along with locations and a teaser reel. Thurber invented the story and will co-write the screenplay with Ellen Shanman. A deal could potentially be finalized by this weekend, the report further states.
A Voltron the film seemed destined to happen eventually, given the nostalgia-driven market that gave rise to Netflix’s next film Gundam movie and sequel Transformers franchise. However, Voltron has much more in common with Power Rangers than pure anime or pure American animation; in the early 80s, Ted Koplar and World Events Productions secured the rights to two completely separate Toei Animation series.
GoLion Beast King ran from 1981 to 1982. WEP edited, cut and re-dubbed it to become the first season of Voltron in 1984. After the show proved a huge success but no more GoLion episodes existed, WEP later adapted the unrelated series Dairugger XV Armored Fleet aired from 1982 to 1983. They were quite similar; GoLion had teenagers riding giant robot lions that formed into a massive mecha warrior. Dairugger XV had teenagers driving around in super cars that would then combine into a giant mecha warrior. The writers made the first season take place much further in the future than the second season; that made sense!
However, there was no denying that the Lion Force season was the most popular with kids and especially toy shelves. After all 52 episodes of Vehicle Force aired in 1985, World Events Productions commissioned an additional 20 episodes of all-new Voltron episodes featuring GoLion characters and mechs.
The series would return several times. First in 1998 until 2000 as Voltron: The Third Dimensionthen as Voltron Strength from 2011-2012. DreamWorks Animation and Netflix have teamed up to Voltron: Legendary Defender in 2016 and the series found new life. Its fandom rivaled the popularity of the original series. Combining elements from both the original Voltron series and elements excised from GoLion, legendary defender turned out to be a space opera with heart, humor and hearty action.
No word on what elements Thurber will borrow from any of the different versions of Voltron over the years. But time has proven that this is the original series, the GoLion designs and characters and story rewritten in the United States that are most popular. Sorry to all Vehicle Force fans, but when you say “Voltron” people think of lions.
More news on this story as it develops.
Kyle Anderson is the editor of Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!